Dozens killed after IS assault on Yemen army post
The Islamic State group have claimed responsibility for attacks on two army positions in southeast Yemen early Friday leaving dozens dead.
IS said in a statement, quoted by SITE Intelligence Group, that 50 Yemeni troops were killed in a suicide attack and clashes in Hadramawt province.
Official reports suggest that the attacks left 15 soldiers and 19 militants dead as well as several civilians wounded, army and medical sources said.
Initially, al-Qaeda was blamed for the attack with the group having a strong presence in Shibam, Hadramaut province where the attacks took place.
The province's capital Mukalla - close to where the attack happened - has also been described as a stronghold of al-Qaeda.
Twelve soldiers and 19 extremists were killed, according to the officer, but a medical source later said the army lost 15 men and several civilians were wounded in the attacks.
The main attack was staged at the western entrance to Shibam, which is known as the "Manhattan of the Desert" and listed as a UNESCO world heritage site for its high-rise mud-brick buildings.
Local officials said fierce clashes broke out after militants exploded a roadside bomb targeting a military patrol, while a suicide bomber blew up a car at an army post near a residential area.
"The blast damaged many homes, wounding several civilians," the medical source said in the nearby town of Seiyun, where the casualties and the bodies of the dead soldiers were transported.
Army units posted in Hadramaut are loyal to the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi in the face of an armed revolt by Houthi rebels.
Taking advantage of Houthi advances in northern and southern Yemen and the collapse of central authority, al-Qaeda seized control in April of the port city of Mukalla.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, has imposed a strict version of sharia Islamic law in areas of Yemen under its control, although its rival the Islamic State group also has a growing presence in the country.
AQAP has executed or lashed those it accused of "crimes" including homosexuality and sorcery. Those accused of theft have their hands cut off.
The United States considers AQAP to be the most dangerous affiliate of the jihadi network and targets its leaders with drone strikes.